The principles of The Ten Commandments can be instructive us in many different endeavors, including investments. The Fourth Commandment is no exception.
The Fourth Commandment has to do with the Sabbath: “Remember the Sabbath day.” It was an injunction to the ancient Hebrews to stop work for at least one day and remember how they had been delivered from slavery. It hearkens back to the account of Creation in Genesis, where God is described as creating the world in six days, and on the seventh day, God rested. In the same way, the Israelites were told to only work six days per week, and rest on the seventh day.
Whatever one’s religious views, the utility of rest is beyond dispute. It has been shown to be critical for health, creativity, and our overall well-being. Taking a break from the daily demands of our jobs gives our minds and bodies a chance to recover and reset.
Investors need to take breaks as well. Investing can be a demanding intellectual process, with quantitative and qualitative information about companies, governments, and markets coming at us 24/7. While it’s tempting to remain continually connected, sometimes we need to turn off our computers and cell phones and go for a walk.
In addition, doing nothing is often the most important investment discipline to develop. Investors need to give their portfolios time to grow and to respond to the events of the day. While sometimes we need to react to new developments, other times it’s better to wait and see how things pan out.
Regular rest and reflection is paradoxically one of the best ways to be more productive. It was true in ancient Israel, and it’s still true today.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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